Posted: January 26th, 2017 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 128 Comments »
You never who is going to become a stud WR. Antonio Brown wasn’t supposed to be nearly this good when he came out. Julian Edelman was beyond a long shot. Jordy Nelson was well-regarded, but not to the level of player he’s become.
You draft players like that with the idea that they will be part of a WR corps. If they become even more, that’s great. You just can’t count on that.
The Eagles may try to sign Alshon Jeffrey in free agency. Or they may get Mike Williams or Corey Davis in the draft. Those are the only really high level WR targets I know of for now. That doesn’t mean the Eagles have to get one of those guys. They can focus on building a WR corps.
Sterling Sharpe was an elite WR in the early 1990s. Brett Favre loved him. Sharpe suffered a serious neck injury and had to retire. Green Bay won the Super Bowl without him. Their WRs were Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Don Beebe, Terry Mickens and Desmond Howard. Andre Rison was added during the season in a trade.
Brooks was very good, but not an elite Jerry Rice/Herman Moore/Michael Irvin level of player. Brooks and Freeman were 3rd round picks that developed into key players for the Packers and helped them to win a Super Bowl and almost a second one.
There are no elite receiver prospects here in Mobile, but there are some good players. You can make an argument the Eagles should draft a couple of them to build up the overall set of WRs.
Artavis Scott has played well so far. He is smooth and looks like the kind of guy you could expect to help as a rookie. He is 5-10, 193. That’s the kind of size you would prefer in a slot receiver. The question is whether Scott has enough speed to play outside. He does have 31-inch arms. That helps him to reach for the ball. Scott has good RAC skills. If the Eagles insist on throwing WR screens, at least go get someone who has a chance to make them work.
Josh Reynolds is 6-3, 187, which is a bit smaller than we expected. He started slow in Mobile, but has played well since that. He can really extend away from his body to get the ball. Reynolds is more of a downfield and Red Zone target. He is a long-strider that eats up ground quickly and helps him get by the CB.
Ryan Switzer reminds me a lot of Jamison Crowder, who is playing so well for the Skins. Switzer is an amazing PR. He has 7 career TDs and that would be higher, but teams quit kicking to him. He could be a terrific slot receiver and someone that would be very good on WR screens.
Taywan Taylor is a guy I’m still figuring out. His production is crazy, but he also played at a mid-level school and was the primary offensive weapon. Switzer, Scott and Reynolds were not the best WRs on their college teams. Taylor is 5-11, 198 and has 32-inch arms. I think he can be a starter in the NFL. At the least, he could be a good role player.
The guys listed above are just the South WRs. There are good targets on the North as well.
Cooper Kupp is the name a lot of people are talking about. I think the Eagles will love a lot about his game, but he’s a lesser version of Jordan Matthews from what I’ve seen. I’m not really all that interested in adding a possession receiver.
Zay Jones is a WR that has caught my eye a few times. He might be a starter in the NFL one day. Jones has good hands. He has solid size and is fast enough. He won’t be mistaken for DeSean Jackson any time, but is athletic enough to be somewhat of a playmaker.
Jalen Robinette is another guy that’s a bit of a mystery to me. He is 6-3, 218. That’s great size for a WR. Robinette can run. He has good body control. He’s athletic. The downside is that he never caught more than 43 passes in a season and played in an option attack. That meant lots of wide open deep balls and huge plays. That’s great for highlights, but trying to evaluate just how good he is can be very tricky. Robinette could turn out to be a stud, but there is risk in taking him. And a guy with his size and speed won’t last long in the draft, no matter how raw he might be.
I’m not even talking about the underclassmen here. These are just the guys in the Senior Bowl. The Eagles need to draft at least one WR. They could take a couple and start building up a corps of targets for Carson Wentz to grow with for the next few years.
Howie explained the Taylor Hart move to OT yesterday. The Eagles were really banged up on the OL during the season and needed help in practice. Hart got put at RT. A few defensive players mentioned to the coaches that he was better than they expected.
The coaches talked to Hart to find out if he ever played OT before that. He said that was his primary position in high school and that only Oregon wanted him for DL. The team talked internally and then went to Hart to ask him about moving to the OL. He embraced the change and will work there all this offseason.
It is a long shot that anything comes of this, but it isn’t impossible. Hart has an excellent combination of size and athleticism. He is physical. Just watch his DT play from last summer. He looked really good.
Hart was not going to break into the DL rotation. This way he gets a shot to show what he can do at a spot where it is really hard to find players. This is a chance worth taking, for him and the team.
Posted: January 25th, 2017 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 58 Comments »
Busy day here in Mobile. We had 4 hours of practice, plus both Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas spoke to the media. They said plenty of interesting things and I’ll cover them on Thursday and over the weekend. For now I want to concentrate on the Senior Bowl itself.
My practice notes for Wednesday are here:
The Eagles talked to the following players after practice:
DE Jordan Willis
DE Keionta Davis
DT Dalvin Tomlinson
WR Taywan Taylor
They have now shown a clear interest in DEs. This is smart for a couple of reasons. First, the Eagles need some DE help. Brandon Graham had a terrific season, but the other starter, Connor Barwin, is going to be traded or released. Vinny Curry will start opposite of Graham in 2017, unless something crazy happens.
I know Curry was disappointing last year. He knows that too. I think injuries affected him all year, but there is no question that he must play better. I know he got a big deal, but Curry has been very disruptive in the past. This isn’t a guy you give up on after one down season. He is a proven performer, just not a proven high-level starter.
The other reason the Eagles are smart to look at DEs is that this class has several guys that are exactly what Jim Schwartz is looking for. He loves guys with length and some size.
Keionta Davis 6-3, 275
Tanoh Kpassagnon 6-7, 280
Daeshon Hall 6-5. 263
Jordan Willis 6-6, 253
Those are the kind of players Schwartz loves to have coming off the edge. They can eat up ground from the Wide-9 alignment and get to the QB in a hurry.
There are actually a lot of players in this class who fit what Schwartz is looking for. Some are developmental projects and others are more of a sure thing. It wouldn’t surprise me for the Eagles to try and add a couple of DEs to the mix.
As for Tomlinson, the Eagles might need DT help if Bennie Logan leaves in free agency. Tomlinson is a good, not great, prospect.
Taylor is a gifted WR. In a way, he is the anti-Agholor.
In the last 2 years, Taylor averaged 17 yards per catch.
He caught 17 TD passes each of the last 2 seasons.
Nelson Agholor wears number 17.
See the connection?
Okay, I’ll grant you that’s a bit of a stretch, but I’ve been sitting in the sun for most of the day and my brain is a little fried. I’ll be thinking more clearly when I get a few PBRs in my system.
Joking aside, there are several WRs I’ve seen in Mobile that I think could help the Eagles. None of these guys looks like a stud, but these players could be part of a good WR corps. I need to study Taylor more to figure out just how much I like him. Zay Jones has been very impressive. Ryan Switzer would be a terrific weapon in the slot. Cooper Kupp is interesting, but as I pointed out in the North notes…he is slow. Don’t look at him as a playmaker.
Posted: January 25th, 2017 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 56 Comments »
Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson and the Eagles took a chance last year when they moved up and drafted Carson Wentz. First, they paid a lot to move up to the #2 overall pick. Putting a lot of resources into one player is risky. What if he’s not that good? What if he’s great, but gets hurt? What if he’s good, but doesn’t have the right players around him?
The second part of the risk was going up for a player from a small school and one who didn’t have 3 or 4 years of starting experience. Wentz started for 2 years, but missed time as a Senior due to injury. The Eagles didn’t have 40 starts to study. They didn’t see him throw 1,000 passes or 100 TDs.
At this point, it looks like the move was brilliant.
Roseman mentioned that the Eagles looked at the QBs in college and felt the next year or two (2017 and 2018 draft classes) might not be that good. 2017 is a bad year for QBs. We’ll have to wait and see about next year. If the Eagles had passed on Wentz, they would be reaching for a QB in the middle of the 1st round this year or trying to get Jimmy Garropalo from the Pats, which wouldn’t be cheap. Wentz is the best of all these options.
Wentz also seems like the right guy to build around. Based on what I’m hearing in Mobile, Wentz proved to be a far better choice than Jared Goff in terms of being a leader and someone that other players believe in. I can’t tell you how important that is. QB is the most important position in all of sports.
Go back 25 years. Randall Cunningham and his defensive teammates had a love/hate relationship. The players loved his talent, but were frustrated by his ego and his lack of complete commitment to working off the field. Cunningham wanted to be a star. Gang Green wanted to win a Super Bowl. That sometimes turbulent relationship hurt the team.
Early in his career, Donovan McNabb was a charismatic leader and his teammates believed in him. That helped the Eagles to have a great run from 2000-2004. The TO situation changed all of that in a bad way and things never really got back to where they were.
Wentz has the physical ability to be a top QB. Just as important, he is all about the team. He wants to win and will do anything he can. He didn’t complain about poor WR play this year. He didn’t gripe when Jason Kelce had a bad snap. Wentz took the blame and said all the right things. That’s part of how you get your teammates to love you. The leader of the team needs to say the right things and do the right things.
Time will tell whether Wentz becomes a star QB and is able to get the Eagles back to being a serious title contender, but so far he’s off to a good start and it looks like the Eagles made a great move to go get him.
Jimmy Bama has a post up on the Eagles and potential roster cuts. He mentions the possibility of the Eagles cutting:
DE Connor Barwin
OC Jason Kelce
OL Allen Barbre
CB Leodis McKelvin
RB Ryan Mathews
LB Mychal Kendricks
CB Ron Brooks
If that happens.
Add it all up, and you get $24,250,000 in added cap space if the Eagles moved on from all of the above players.
Jimmy gives the specific numbers and rationale behind the moves go read his piece.
That would be a lot of money for the Eagles and would give them in the neighborhood of $30M to spend. That pales in comparison to some teams that have well over $50M in cap room.
Ideally, the Eagles would be able to trade Kelce and Kendricks and get something in return. Kelce was just named to the Pro Bowl and is still talented. Kendricks is the third LB in a system that generally goes with 2 guys because they play so much Nickel D. Kendricks could start for plenty of teams and is also a talented player.
Barwin could interest 3-4 teams, but due to his age and price, teams may just wait for the Eagles to cut him. It is possible that some team will value his leadership and off-field stuff enough to give up a pick for him, but I’m guessing that’s not likely.
I am all for the cuts if that means the Eagles have the ability to bring back Bennie Logan. They could also make one or two other key moves, but don’t expect a super busy free agent period.
Posted: January 24th, 2017 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 24 Comments »
The Senior Bowl is officially underway. Today we had the weigh-ins and the first 2 practices. I’ve got notes posted on them.
South – Day 1
North – Day 1
Now let’s talk about the Eagles. Who were they talking to?
DE Tanoh Kpassagnon
DE Dawuane Smoot
DE Derek Rivers
RB Matt Dayes
OC Evan Pocic
Understand that the Senior Bowl is now set up so that teams talk to every player in Mobile in a semi-formal setting during the evenings. But you can still tell something by who the scouts go to talk to after practices.
The big thing to take away from the above list is that the Eagles are interested in DEs. They have a couple of proven pass rushers in Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry, but the team needs young, cheap help at DE. Connor Barwin will be cut. Marcus Smith and Steven Means can’t be counted on. The Eagles need at least one DE to add to the mix.
I’m a big fan of Kpassagnon so I’d love to see that happen, but the other 2 guys are also quality prospects
I don’t know what is wrong with Les Bowen
Why would he post a pic of Joe Douglas and Dawk doing that when Jimmy Bama and I were doing the exact same thing, but we’re far sexier. Bad choice, Mr. Bowen.
I like the talent here in Mobile. Quite a few guys I think would make good Eagles. OL, DL, CBs and WRs. Feels good to not have to pay too much attention to QBs for the first time in a long, long time.
Posted: January 24th, 2017 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 123 Comments »
There is no magic formula for building a title contender. The Falcons have an elite offense. The Pats have arguably the best coach/QB combo in football history. Denver won with defense last year. We’ve seen great offenses and defenses win over the years.
The key is to look at what you have and what resources are available in free agency and the draft and then build accordingly. There are a lot of good CBs and DEs in this draft. The Eagles need to focus on those positions. They’ll get good value. That doesn’t mean you ignore other positions, but this is all about odds.
If there are 20 good CBs and 10 good WRs, the odds tell me that it is more likely that a good CB will be available when I pick. I’m just throwing numbers out there to make the point. Don’t take this to mean there are 2 good CBs for every WR. The point is that the Eagles should feel reasonably confident they can find some CB help in the draft.
I’m still doing research on the free agent class so I’m not completely sure what I want the team to do there and I’m also not sure what the smartest plan of attack is. Do you go after Alshon Jeffrey and pay him mega-bucks? Do you go get a top CB? Do you go for a talented LG? You can make a case for any of those options.
So often at this time of year we get caught up in thinking about positions when really the emphasis should be on players. This ties in to the whole Eric Rowe situation. Would I love a 6-1, 205 CB who runs 4.45? In theory, yes. But then I think about how Rowe played last spring and summer. He was…not mega-awesome, to put it mildly.
Jimmy Bama wrote a fantastic piece on the situation and tried to explain that point. On paper, Rowe sounds great. And he did show talent in 2015. But the guy from 2016 was a mess. He stunk. That’s who the Eagles traded. I don’t know why that is such a complicated idea to take in. Reuben Frank and plenty of others are stuck on the notion that since Rowe played better for NE, the Eagles should have kept him because he might have played better here as well.
Scheme matters. Circumstances matter. Rowe didn’t play well in Philly. He went to the Patriots with a clean slate. Belichick is a master at getting the most out of his DBs. Patrick Chung stunk in Philly and is a solid player for the Pats. Belichick isn’t just another team. He’s not just another coach. He’s a freak.
There is also the player getting a wake-up call. When a young player is cut or traded, it is a signal to them that their career is not headed in the right direction. That can bring out the best in some guys.
Nigel Bradham’s best NFL seasons are 2014 and 2016. He played for Jim Schwartz both years. Something about that system and the way Schwartz coaches brings out the best in Bradham.
Sometimes a change of pace brings out the best in a guy. Darren Sproles looked like a declining player for the Saints in 2013. He’s been terrific since coming to Philly. In 3 years here, he has 11 rushing TDs, half of his career total. He’s been a key role player on offense and great on STs.
The Eagles need to focus on finding the right guys this offseason.
Les Bowen wrote a piece on Joe Douglas and what he’s looking for in draft prospects.
Douglas said he wants “guys that are obsessed with winning, guys that are physically and mentally tough.”
That is Ravens 101. Needs to be Eagles 101. Don’t obsess on measurables, as Chip Kelly did. They have a place in evaluation, but the real key is finding talented players who fit your schemes and who will battle, on the practice field and during games.
Mobile can be a great place for finding those players. You see who competes in practice every day. Some guys are up and down with effort. Others are locked in as if their life depended on it.
I’ll be focused on WRs with good hands and guys who fight for the ball.
With CBs, I’ll be looking for aggressive players who aren’t afraid to take chances. I think Schwartz would tell you it is better to make a couple of plays and give one up than to not make any plays at all.
Let’s hope Douglas, the scouts and Eagles coaches can find some guys who will help this team take a big step forward in 2017.